There are some people in your life you would sell your legs for just to buy them the hat they've been coveting, and others you're not so close to. What do you give these fond peripherals – your great-aunt; your colleague; the people next door? You need something that says "I'm thinking of you" without saying "I'm madly in love with you." Something that says "you're worth a bit of time" without saying "I spent a thousand dollars on this ridiculous trinket." Something that nods to your relationship with these peripheral-yet-important people, but won't take up your whole day. Here are a few ideas for the festive season.
1. Cookies! Need I say more? Bake the perfect batch of decadent Christmas bickies and pop them in an airtight container. Then wrap or box the container itself, add a ribbon and note, and you're done. Depending on what you already have at home, you may not even need to purchase the wrapping paper! A handy hint – if you've managed to bake your cookies in a vaguely uniform size, pop them into an old (clean) Pringles container and cover with wrapping paper for the easiest air-tight presentation.
2. DIY Cake in a Jar. The Melbourne-hipster-and-Pinterest Mason Jar phase is far from over. Grab a clean, sanitised glass jar and lid, and layer it with the right measurements of dry ingredients for your favourite cake, bread or biscuit. Add a pretty label explaining how to do the rest, and your home-made cake mix is ready to be gifted to that someone special. You can also try hot chocolate mix, or soup mix.
3. Remember to also re-use old wrap. This is one most people do already, but have you considered some more creative ways of presenting your gifts? Try plain brown butcher's paper, or even colourful fabric remnants.
Brown paper, twine, and some recycled pencilcase letters for a creative gift
4. A "Plant"-able Card. Have you ever made your own paper? It's surprisingly easy and endlessly customisable. By adding flower seeds to the paper pulp before leaving to dry you can not only produce a lovely home-made (from scratch!) card, but if you include instructions for the recipient to plant and water their card, it can then produce a lovely bouquet in their own garden.
5. A Personalised Notebook. Gather or print out photos and intersperse them with sheets of plain paper, perhaps adding a few decorative papers if you wish. Build up the pile until it is about 1cm thick, then take it to Officeworks or a local printing store to be squared (cut to an even size) and bound. All up, you'll be looking at under five dollars for a treasured – and useful – gift. If you want to go a step further, fill it with some favourite recipes.
Some colourful pages in a home-made notebook I received as a birthday gift
6. Kids' Creative Magnets. This is the perfect gift for a doting grandparent. A plain magnetic sheet (sometimes pre-cut into smaller squares) can be purchased from craft shops, and then it's just up to you and the kids to go wild with drawings or bobbles and glue to make the sweetest magnets ever to hit the fridge.
7. Bright and fun money tin. I love buying unopenable money tins from my local discount store then going home to decorate it just how I want. You can use old magazines, photos, nail polish, paint, wrapping paper, wool – even other coins! These make a great, useful gift.
8. Teacup candles. Trawl your local op-shop for beautiful old teacups, grab a line of candle wicking and wax bits from a local craft store, and create gorgeous home-made candles that are beautifully presented. Experiment with adding scented oils and colouring.
9. One-of-a-kind tree ornaments. If you go to the discount stores, baubles are very cheap. Using these as a base you can add your own paint and decorations to make unique ornaments for the home of someone you love. If you can find clear baubles, try filling them with sequins or glitter.
10. After all the presents received on Christmas, what some people most need is a way of keeping them. Consider a more practical home-made gift such as redecorated paper or fabric boxes, jewellery stands, or coat hooks – of course, if you're going to give an empty box, you might feel compelled to first fill it. Which brings us back to the first idea...